My Life, Paleo/Whole30, & Mango Watermelon Salsa

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Let’s talk about food, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about . . . anyone singing along right now? No, really, though, let’s discuss. Why have I been avoiding you? What have I been eating? Two exceedingly excellent questions. And, as it turns out, two questions that are inexplicably intertwined (Too much alliteration? Sorry).

The thing is, I haven’t really been eating much sugar lately. As in, no cake. Or cupcakes. Or froyo (is this my own personal version of hell?). Also, no alcohol. No pasta. NO CHEESE. Yes, the unimaginable has occurred: I’ve gone paleoContinue reading

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins

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Guys, I have really exciting news!!! This is huge. I mean, big time. Yeah, that’s right, the Playstation 4 was announced yesterday. Bring on the Killzone Shadow Fall.

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Okay, sorry, I can’t even pretend. I just had to look up “Playstation 4 games” to find out the name of some popular games of this generation. I mean, my last game console was actually the original gray Playstation. I can’t even remember the name of my favorite game (It’s the one where you shoot the spaceships that line up and dive down at you. . . any ideas?).

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But anyway, here’s the actual exciting news: My recipe was published in Cake Central Magazine this month! I contributed an article (quite similar to a blog post, actually) with a recipe and photos of a Strawberry Chantilly Cake inspired by my childhood. If you’re interested, you can check it out here (it’s the “strawberry sweetheart” mentioned on the front cover)!

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Almond Joy Balls

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As you read this post, I am probably terrified. Gripping the hand of my seatmate. Hurtling through the air at the speed of 576 mph. Oh, and also incredibly excited to descend upon the great city of New Orleans for Mardi Gras! Woohoo!!!

That’s right, Ragini (who you may remember from my Junk in the Trunk Cookies) and I are going to visit our friend Nisha, who is currently doing grad school smartypants things at Tulane! After asking Nisha the all-important questions of “What clothing should I bring?” and “Can we use your shampoo and conditioner?” (Either way, I was going to use hers . . . Spirit’s luggage fees are crazy!) I asked myself the next-most important question: What snacks should I bring?  Continue reading

Falafel Dip

Here’s the thing about Houston: I love it. I really do.

Driving 59 South to Chinatown, enjoying a concert at Miller Outdoor Theatre, even catching a whiff of the pungent smell perpetually dominating the intersection of Main Street and University. It’s just so familiar to me.

Most of all, though, I love Houston for the amazing people I met there during college. Two weekends ago, I had the opportunity to visit Houston and stay with my college roommates. The trip may or may not have been designed around seeing the midnight premiere of Breaking Dawn – Part 2 with my friend (and four-year roommate, woohoo!) Liz. Perchance I’ve also seen every other Twilight Saga movie with her. I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind everybody that there is no judging on this website. None whatsoever.

A couple of days before I journeyed to H-town, I received this text from Liz: “Would you be interested in making baked falafel with me on wednesday?” Um. Who wouldn’t? Seriously. Who turns down a text like that? Not I.

That’s how, later on that week, I found myself making baked falafel with Liz and Rachel (another lovely roomie). Chickpeas, onions, cilantro, salt, pepper, and herbs went into a food processor, and out emerged . . . magic. Mmm. The falafel batter was so delicious. We immediately shaped the batter into falafel patties and popped them on the tray to bake.

Although we initially experienced a little trouble getting the falafel to firm up, after increasing the oven temperature a bit, our patience finally paid off and resulted in some mega tasty baked falafel. Later, after perusing the recipe again, I found out that our error lay in using canned instead of dry chickpeas, which the lovely Kate remarked would result in “sad falafel pancakes.” Whoops. I still think ours were pretty happy (in our tummies!).

Now then. What’s up with this falafel dip?? Well, the next morning, as Liz and I were lamenting the long-devoured falafel, we also discussed the amazingness of the falafel batter. And then. Liz said the words “falafel dip.” As in, the batter doesn’t really need to be baked/fried/cooked in any way, does it? NO. It really doesn’t. Continue reading

Cinnamon-Glazed Pecans and Two Cookie Recipes

Happy Halloween, lovely people!

Have I told you about my sister? I think I’ve let you in on some fun tidbits . . . like how I’m living with her this year, that she owns awesome kitchen gadgets (hellooo food processor), and that I learned all my baking skills from her. Though she’s a lot more organized in the kitchen, believe me. Somehow I missed that tutorial?

But the most important point about her today is that she loves holidays just as much as I do! Which is pretty ridiculous, considering my insane level of holiday cheer (I’m SO excited to break out my Little Miss Christmas shirt!). As lovers of the holidays, one of our favorite things to do is spread the holiday spirit through treat bags.

Why yes, I do actually own this sign. What can I say? I’m a festive person!

This has led to some pretty crazy baking (mis)adventures for us. One time, a day of testing molten lava cakes led to a sugar high for me, followed by a massive headache, resulting in my sister basically force-feeding me dumplings to stabilize my blood sugar as I tried to simply wallow on the couch. True. story. By the way, that was literally the first time I realized that consuming too much sugar could produce such a terrible result. Before that point, I thought people were weak when they talked about getting “sick” from too much candy. Yeah, point taken.

In celebration of Halloween, she decided to make treat bags for her co-workers! And by that I mean, we made treat bags for her co-workers. I may also have eaten some of the cookies (and I also tested the pecans just for quality purposes). However, that’s really not the point.

The point is, treat bags are delicious, sorta nutritious, and totally brighten the days of the recipients! Especially if they are bestowed with cute little treat tags tied on with ribbon. The treat tag pictures, by the way, are most definitely not my work. Way too profesh (from here). These are super adaptable for all seasons/holidays as well.

For the bags, we decided to make the cinnamon-glazed pecans that my best friend Hannah and I tested out this past weekend! If you’re buying these from a vendor/store, stop it right now. As Hannah put it, “Man, we’ve been getting ripped off for years!” Because these pecans are quite easy to make at home. Though we tried out a recipe using brown sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice, I would actually recommend just using brown sugar and cinnamon. Hannah tried this simpler version at home and gave it mad props.

We also made two kinds of cookies. One cookie is based off these award-winning chocolate chip cookies that I adapted in my very first post. These are, as I said, my very favorite chocolate chip cookies – so ridiculous soft and melty! For the second, we tried out these amazing Peanut Butter Cup Pudding Cookies. There’s really no going wrong with chocolate and peanut butter, and these were just about perfect. Simply based on my own tastes, I’ve slightly increased the pudding amount in my version below (more chocolate always), and changed up the ratio of white to brown sugar.

What are you waiting for? Make treats, eat treats, trick or treat . . . whatever you do, I wish you a safe and happy Halloween!

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Lightened Up Mac & Cheese Bites

My first experiences with macaroni & cheese took place at the Ryan’s Buffet in Wichita, Kansas. Although this haven of all-you-can-eat steak is now closed down (eliciting great distress from my dad), I still remember my plan of attack at the buffet spread: First, a spoonful of mac & cheese – with the baked cheese crust on top.

Next, a visit to the mashed potatoes diagonally across from the mac & cheese. I would put a dollop of mashed potatoes on my plate, then – most importantly – brown gravy on top of both the potatoes and the mac & cheese. Thus, it was of utmost importance to visit the mac & cheese pan before sojourning to the mashed potatoes. Let’s not even talk about what happened if all the baked cheese crust had already been taken from the mac & cheese pan. Sob city.

My mac & cheese passions fluctuated over the next decade or so (gah how old am I??). The summer before high school, when I was exhausted and absolutely ravenous from the full days of summer P.E. class (ughhhh), I actually melted sour cream with cheese, then poured it over pasta. Never. again. In college, though, I was more a fan of Kraft Easy Mac Cups. Now those, those I could talk about for days. Three and a half minutes to cheesy pasta heaven.

Recently, I’ve been craving mac & cheese again. This craving happened to coincide with my hosting a (small) Halloween party this past weekend. Basically, it was an excuse for me to make a lot of food, eat, and decorate…which are three of my favorite activities in the entire world. Though, really, I can’t take credit for the decorations. My best friend Hannah (who I’ve known since basically the womb) visited me this past weekend (yayyy!), and worked some serious crepe paper magic.

In terms of food, though, I really wanted to make mac & cheese. I mean, who doesn’t like mounds of cheese heaped on pasta (AmIright? Crayola even named a crayon after it!). But, I wanted an option that didn’t require all sorts of fork/plate/mouth/napkin/messy shenanigans. So when I saw this recipe for mac & cheese bites – baked in a cupcake tin!!! – I knew I’d found a winner. Buttt. Since I also wanted a recipe that I could eat at least five of and not feel guilty about, I looked around for a “healthy” mac & cheese option as well.

These mac & cheese bites are a product of both of these recipes, plus some of my craziness/perpetual messing around with recipes. I also baked them in a mini cupcake tin to perfectly fit in the palm of your hand! But I do need to highlight one thing: Greek yogurt, people. Say it with me: GREEK YOGURT! I’ve used it before to substitute for butter in baking, and man oh man. Who knew it was so perfect in mac & cheese as well? Now you know. No excuses.

So, tell me, am I a crazy person? Or do you, too, go through mac & cheese phases/cravings/recipes galore? Hit me up with your mac & cheese recipes!

P.S. I now have a twitter – @3PastriesaDay. Follow me for delicious blog updates and drool-worthy pics!

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